Police on Thursday released surveillance video of downtown's latest smash-and-grab robbery.
In the video, three men are seen running into the 21st Century Jewelry store, located at 749 S. Broadway. One of the robbers pepper sprays the store's employee, while the other two men smash glass jewelry display cases. As the clerk huddles behind the counter, the men grab whatever they can carry and flee the store.
The three thieves were 5 feet 9 inches to 6 feet tall, ranging in age between 17 and 20 years old. They left in a white four-door Toyota Camry with paper plates, according to police.
This latest incident, dated July 22, is part of what's shaping up to be the summer of smash-and-grab.
Since late June, this is the eighth similar robbery along Broadway. Compared to last summer, there have been a comparable amount of incidents, although the city is far ahead of schedule, said LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon.
"We think that the word has gotten around that this is somehow easy money, but I'm here to tell everyone, we've put 13 people in jail over the last couple weeks and we'll keep doing that until they realize the pickings aren't so easy," said Vernon.
A common thread among the incidents seems to be a connection to South Los Angeles gangs, "though no one gang is directing or leading the spree," wrote detectives in a news release. Investigators also attribute the price of gold as possible motivation for the thefts.
In the 21st Century Jewelry store robbery, the thieves did leave with some gold, said Vernon, although most of the loot was costume jewelry. The total haul was estimated at $7,000.
"We've been seeing these smash-and-grabs occurring for several weeks," said Vernon. "As you can see in the video, the use of pepper spray has become a common tactic."
The rash of smash-and-grabs isn't limited to downtown's Jewelry District.
"We've have spoken to other agencies from Tustin to Corona to Inglewood," Vernon said.
Anyone with information about the case can contact detectives at 213-972-1251. During non-business hours or weekends, calls may be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7. Tipsters can remain anonymous via Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).